Experimental oiling of sanderlings (Calidris alba): Behavior and weight changes

Joanna Burger, Nellie Tsipoura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


We applied fresh and weathered oil from the Anitra oil spill to the belly feathers of experimental sanderlings (Calidris alba) to simulate 20% plumage oiling, whereas controls were stroked with clean swabs only. We tested the null hypotheses that there were no differences in behavior following oiling and that there were no differences in weight gain or loss in control and experimental birds. Control sanderlings showed no differences in behavior before and after oiling, but oiled birds spent significantly less time resting and more time bathing and preening. Significant differences in weight and behavior were observed between the control and oiled birds. Following oiling, the sanderlings preened vigorously, spreading the oil so that they appeared to have oiling rates of 30%. Thereafter, the percentage of their plumage that was oiled decreased steadily over the next 2 weeks, but the birds never appeared completely free of oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1154-1158
Number of pages5
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Behavior
  • Birds
  • Oil
  • Oil spill
  • Weight changes


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